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CogTool is a general purpose UI prototyping tool with a difference - it automatically evaluates your design with a predictive human performance model (a "cognitive crash dummy").
To use Cogtool, simply create a storyboard of your design idea with sketches, images or on a canvas with CogTool's widgets, demonstrate tasks on that storyboard, then press a button to produce a valid cognitive model predicting how long it will take a skilled user to complete those tasks. CogTool can be used today to baseline your current interface, or compare competitors' interfaces, and predict how much better your new designs will be.
The psychological theory that underlies CogTool's predictions of skilled execution time is called the Keystroke-Level Model, created by Stu Card, Tom Moran and Allen Newell in the 1980s and has been validated through decades of research and documented in over 100 research publications. The predictions can be trusted to be within 20% of the what you could measure if you trained users in your new designs, practiced them until they were skilled, and ran controlled time-on-task studies. CogTool has increased the accuracy of the KLM because it applies the theory more consistently through its "modeling by demonstration" approach, and has been reported to be within about 10% of empirical data.
Use CogTool to benchmark competitors' products, or your own earlier versions, to be sure that your new design will be more efficient for skilled users. Use CogTool to explore a large design space and only invest in testing a few of the more promising ideas with users. Use CogTool to analyze a current product to find efficiency bottlenecks and focus your redesign efforts. CogTool does not replace user testing, but it brings a complementary analytic technique to the UI design toolbox.
You are free to use and modify this software for any purpose. However, it is provided as-is with no warranty -- use at your own risk. CogTool is released under the LGPL.
Detailed information is provided in the CogTool User Guide (available below). We strongly recommend that you read this guide to get the most out of the CogTool system.
Requires OS X version 10.5 or later, and a Macintosh with an Intel processor.
- Download the CogTool .tgz file below.
- Install CogTool by expanding the .tgz file. If your browser does not automatically expand the .tgz file, double-click the file. The expanded CogTool application will appear in the same folder as the .tgz file. (You may delete the .tgz file after the CogTool application has been extracted.) You may place CogTool anywhere on your Mac.
- Double-click CogTool to begin.
As with any Macintosh application, you may place CogTool's icon in the Dock for more convenient access.
On OS X 10.7 (Lion) or later, you may be asked if you want to install a Java runtime; if so, answer yes.
On OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) or later, depending upon your settings in the Security & Privacy Preference Pane, double clicking on CogTool may refuse to launch it, since it was not obtained through the App Store. Instead right click (or control click) on the application and select Open; you will be presented with a dialog asking you to confirm that you really do want to run CogTool. Note that you only have to do this once; after you have once said "yes, I want to run it" OS X should remember that choice and allow you run it in the future by simply double clicking on the application.
Requires Windows XP or later
- Download the CogTool .exe file below.
- Install CogTool by double-clicking the installer and following the instructions. Once it is finished, you may check the "Open CogTool" option to begin immediately, or
- Open CogTool from the Start Menu to begin, as you would any Windows application